Monday, August 01, 2011

You Won't Miss the Meat

Summer grilling isn't all about searing big hunks of animal flesh, and contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood whets my appetite for the tsunami of summer vegetables that are ready to flood local gardens and markets.

Even thought what we longingly call summer seems to be slipping by quickly, the last few days have been beautiful, and the warm weather leads to sitting outside in the evening for hours. I made dinner for old friends tonight, and this dish, improvised from the vegetables I’d planned to be a sort of ratatouille, was just right.

Summer Ratatouille with Grilled Vegetables, Tomatoes & Capers

Let me first repeat what’s become my rule for grilling vegetables: do not use any oil before grilling. I’ve yet to find plant material destined for a hot fire that needs it, and the oil just burns. Leave the vegetables dry.

Slice an eggplant into rounds, summer squash into long halves, a couple of bell peppers (any color, but red or yellow are best) into quarters, and a couple of leeks in half lengthwise. Grill them over hot coals, turning as often as necessary to get nice and brown. Remove to a platter when done, then cut into smaller chunks (quarter the eggplants, etc., just to make serving easier; or not). Top with a few good tomatoes, cut into pieces about the same size as the grilled vegetables.

Pour on a quarter cup or so of Katz Late Harvest Zinfandel or one of the other amazing Katz Orleans method vinegars, drizzle generously with your best extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flor de sal and toss on a couple of tablespoons of salt-packed capers, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes. If you’ve got some fresh oregano or other herbs in your garden, sprinkle some over the top. Best, I think, at room temperature.

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